When you think about Mayfair, the first port of call for your memory will probably be the dark blue rectangle on the Monopoly board which bears the name. If this conjures up expensive houses and exclusive boutique hotels for the generally well to do then you would not be far wrong. Mayfair is one of the more exclusive and upmarket areas of London which however, is still remarkably accessible for all. Recent archaeological excavations in the area have brought to light that Mayfair is actually right on the junction of two ancient Roman roads, a fact which has led several minds in the field to believe that this was in fact the site of the first Roman settlement, used before they established a large base at Londinium. The name Mayfair, which now is so evocative of wealth and luxury in fact comes from the annual two week long fair which took place here from 1686 until 1764. The fair was forced to move away and relocate to Fairfield Bow after 1764 after complaints from the rather well off and well to do Mayfair residents which claimed that the fair was attracting all kinds of riff raff and ne’er-do-wells and was lowering the tone of the area.

Photo by Kamal H
Photo by Kamal H

A Fashionable Address

Mayfair has always been one of the most fashionable addresses in London, even during the 17th century when the housing was developed it was much sought after. Many of the buildings here are Georgian and were owned by notable families such as the Dukes of Westminster, the Grosvenors, Berkleys and Rothschilds, plush a large part of the area belongs to the crown. Property in Mayfair is some of the most expensive in the city. With the heavy damage sustained by the city as a whole during the Second World War, the area saw many businesses opening up in what had previously only been a residential area, as they had been bombed out of their more inner city locations. The businesses eventually moved back towards the city centre and Mayfair regained its reputation as being the most fashionable residential area of the city.

Located within Mayfair

Mayfair envelops other areas within its boundaries, the names of which are all associated with wealth and grandeur. Grosvenor Square for example was developed in 1720. Funded by Sir Richard Grosvenor, it soon became the grandest of all of the ‘London Squares’.  Most of the original town houses that were built here are long gone, replaced by more modern developments. However this six acre square is still one of the most sought after addresses in the city. One famous resident was John Adams who resided at number 9; he went on to become the President of the United States. Mount Street came to prominence in the 18th century and became home to some of the city’s more exclusive retailers. Berkley Square dates from the 18th century, with number 50 Berkley Square reputed to be the most notoriously haunted house in London. Winston Churchill spent most of his childhood in number 48. Park Lane too, the other dark blue section of the Monopoly Board comes under the umbrella of Mayfair.

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